F1Weekly podcast # 817


He is the only driver to win a CART Series title, the Indianapolis 500 and the 24 Hours of Daytona, all in his first attempt. He is also a former winner of one of the most prestigious races in the world: the Monaco Grand Prix. Legendary racers Mario Andretti and Dan Gurney are the only other drivers besides Montoya that can boast wins in Formula One (F1), CART/IndyCar and NASCAR. As the 38-year-old Montoya re-acclimates himself back to IndyCar racing in 2014, he has an opportunity to add to his impressive racing resume and to Team Penske’s long legacy of success. Montoya was taught the art of motorsports at an early age by his father, Pablo. He quickly began to show promise as he captured four consecutive Colombian National Carting Championships from 1981-1984

After several successful seasons in the Colombia Formula Renault series, Montoya moved to Europe to pursue his dream of competing in F1. In 1997 he finished second in the Formula 3000 series and was signed to a contract as a test driver for the Williams F1 team. After capturing the Formula 3000 title in 1998, Montoya made the move to CART for the 1999 season. In a remarkable rookie season, Montoya became the youngest champion in the history of CART at the age of 24. He edged out Dario Franchitti for the title after the two racers posted the same number of championship points but Montoya had the advantage producing seven victories on the year to Franchitti’s three. In addition to the CART title, he was also named series Rookie of the Year.

Montoya elected to remain in the United States to compete in CART again during the 2000 season. In the only IndyCar Series start of his career, the 2000 Indianapolis 500, Montoya again wowed the motorsports world by winning the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing”? in his first attempt. He closed that chapter of his American open-wheel racing career with 11 wins and 14 podium finishes in 41 career starts. Determined to fulfill his dream of competing in F1, Montoya joined the Williams BMW team in 2001.

He earned a win at Monza in his rookie season as he continued to hone his skills. In 2003, Montoya had a stellar season as he won the Monaco Grand Prix, one of the world’s crown jewel races, as he produced with two victories and a third-place finish in the series standing. He continued his drive with Williams BMW through 2004 before moving over to the McLaren-Mercedes team for the 2005 and 2006 seasons. During his F1 career, Montoya amassed seven victories and 30 podium finishes in 94 starts. It was announced late in the 2006 season that Montoya would compete in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series beginning in 2007

Play Podcast: 01-29-20f1weekly817.mp3



DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 26, 2020) – Team owner Wayne Taylor, forced to shuffle the deck this year when it came to assembling a driver lineup for the 58th Rolex 24 At DAYTONA, came up with a full house of talent. The result: a successful defense of last year’s championship and a third victory in the last four years in North America’s premier sports car race at Daytona International Speedway.

With the exit of his son Jordan to another team and the absence of Formula 1 legend Fernando Alonso, who joined the team only for last year’s Rolex 24, Taylor landed former and current IndyCar Series stars Ryan Briscoe and Scott Dixon to join returnees Kamui Kobayashi and Renger van der Zande. The foursome co-drove the increasingly iconic No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi to the victory, giving Taylor his fourth Rolex 24 championship as an owner; Taylor also co-drove to victory twice, during his driving days. Dixon, a former Indianapolis 500 champion, came home a Rolex 24 champion for the third time.

Kobayashi brought the Cadillac home Sunday afternoon with a final two-and-a-half-hour stint. The team overcame a stutter-step just after 8:15 a.m., with nearly five-and-a-half hours remaining, Briscoe ran a red light at the pit road exit; the penalty was a stop-and-go the next time around, plus 60 seconds. The lead was lost to the No. 5 Cadillac DPi driven by Loic Duval. At 9:45 a.m., during a round of pit stops with Briscoe back at the wheel, the No. 10 retook the lead for good.

“Just keeping it on the track [was the key],” Briscoe said. “Kamui did a fantastic job the last two-and-a-half hours. We knew the car was fast. We were just relieved there were no yellows at the end so we could maintain the lead. Just so proud of all these guys. Wayne just puts together this program and they are always a car that can win the Rolex 24. Amazing to be a part of it. Whew! We did it.”

As expected, with a slightly smaller field (38 cars) compared to some years, the race pace was relentless and caution periods (33 laps total) were minimal. A total of 833 laps were run on the 3.56-mile road course, equating to 2,965 miles – both race records. The distance traveled by the three cars who finished on the lead lap was roughly the equivalent to a Daytona Beach-Napa Valley cross-country road trip.

Kobayashi crossed the finish line 1 minute, 05.426 seconds ahead of the pole-sitting No. 77 Mazda DPi co-driven by Oliver Jarvis, Tristan Nunez and Olivier Pla. The No. 5 Cadillac finished third, co-driven by Duval, Joao Barbosa and Sebastien Bourdais.

“As everybody knows this is a very difficult race to win,” said Taylor, a native of South Africa and a longtime Orlando area resident. “This year was probably more difficult than any other year. We had a [lower] car count, which meant there was not going to be a whole lot of yellows so pretty much everybody was running flat-out the entire time, working really hard.

“Truly, the team was really outstanding. These drivers … can’t say enough about them. They’re like superstars [but] there are no egos. This is a team event and everybody is focusing on the big picture and that’s to win for everybody.”





DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 24, 2020) – Wayne Taylor Racing, trying to defend its title with a reconfigured driver lineup, returned to the forefront at the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA, leading the final practice for Saturday’s 58th running of the 24-hour endurance classic at Daytona International Speedway that opens the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.

Kamui Kobayashi led the session with a lap of 1 minute, 35.340 seconds (134.424 mph) in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi, topping the headlining Daytona Prototype international class. Kobayashi and Renger van der Zande are returning WTR drivers, joined at this year’s Rolex 24 by newcomers Ryan Briscoe and Scott Dixon; Dixon is one of six former Indianapolis 500 champions in the field.

“I’m very happy with how the car has felt during the practice sessions [but] the team built a great car for the race which is very important,” Kobayashi said. “We’re going to fight to win … we’ve worked very hard to get to this point.”

Another champion in the field – two-time and reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch – was back on track Friday along with his No. 14 Lexus RC F co-drivers, Jack Hawksworth, Michael De Quesada and Parker Chase. With Hawksworth driving, the No. 14 posted the seventh-fastest time in the production-based GT Daytona (GTD) class, at 1:47.310 (119.429). The team opted out of Thursday’s qualifying due to an engine change. The Lexus returned for Thursday’s night practice and had the 11th-fastest GTD lap.

Busch is racing in the Rolex 24 for the first time at the track where he will try to win the DAYTONA 500 for the first time on Feb. 16.

F1Weekly podcast # 816


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 21, 2020) – The 58th running of the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA sports car endurance classic is five days away. The rhetorical clock is ticking, leading up to Saturday afternoon when the real clock comes into play.

The Rolex 24, the season-opening race for the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, starts at 1:40 p.m. Saturday at Daytona International Speedway. Competitors will then face one of motorsports’ most challenging events, a twice-around-the-clock excursion on the 3.56-mile DIS road course. Four WeatherTech Championship classes – Daytona Prototype international (DPi), Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2), GT Le Mans (GTLM) and GT Daytona (GTD) – will vie simultaneously for the overall and the separate class titles.

Beneath that overview of one of motorsports premier races lies a plethora of storylines supporting the undeniable resurgence of the Rolex 24 in recent years. That resurgence has coincided with a reimagined IMSA, which has made the 2014 merger of GRAND-AM Road Racing and the American Le Mans Series a sparkling triumph, to the benefit of North American sports car racing fans.

Each season, it all starts amid the consummate backdrop: the “World Center of Racing” in the city where IMSA was founded in 1969.

Every year at the Rolex 24, the buzz inevitably begins with the entry list. This race is renowned for attracting an all-star field featuring drivers from other racing disciplines such as NASCAR, IndyCar and Formula 1. This year fits the mold as two-time and reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch heads the must-see list, co-driving the No. 14 AIM VASSER SULLIVAN Lexus in the production-based GTD class, making his Rolex 24 debut.

Play Podcast: 01-22-20f1weekly816.mp3



Almost a year has past since BMW i Andretti Motorsport driver Max Guenther failed to finish the 2019 Santiago E-Prix driving for his former team Geox Dragon. But what a difference a year can make. This time around, the BMW driver stormed to victory in a perfectly executed race, moving up from second place before clinching his maiden win after a daring ‘now or never’ move on the final lap.

Today is a dream come true,” said Guenther, visibly relieved after a fraught battle on track which saw him emerge from the fight in first place – his maiden win in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship.

Just less than a year ago, the 22 year old driver was racing with American outfit Geox Dragon, where he failed to finish the Santiago race along with seven other drivers. With record temperatures across the city, the 2019 Santiago race was one of the hottest and challenging on record. But this time around was a very different story.

“For all of us it was about managing the race in hot conditions and it was a straight fight for the win.

“Having not made a great start on the dirty side of the track, which cost me a position, we used the ATTACK MODES very cleverly. That allowed me to take the lead.”

Despite an aggressive drive from DS Techeetah’s Antonio Felix da Costa, which saw him gain the lead temporarily, the young German remained calm and composed pulling off a perfectly executed overtake with seconds to spare.

“In that heat, it was also important to keep an eye on the temperature of the batteries. We did that really well.

“On the final lap, Antonio had to coast a little earlier than me on the straight. I thought to myself ‘now or never’ and went for the overtake. Fortunately, it came off!” said the German driver with a smile.

Now with 25 points to his name, Guenther sits just outside the top three in the championship standings – 13 points off leader Stoffel Vandoorne. Could the youngest driver in the championship claim the title? Time will tell.

F1Weekly podcast # 815


F1Weekly’s exclusive interview with
Esteban Ocon at the 2019 Abu Dhabi GP.

Photo: Humansideofracing.com

“Future is so bright I need some shades.” Things are going great for the young Frenchman. With a little help from Toto and Renault he is back on the track in 2020.

Q. First of all, welcome back to the world of Formula 1. On a scale of 1 to 10, how happy are you or do we need a bigger scale?

A. “Bigger scale, I think. Thank you for the welcome back but I never really left this F1 world. I was always here as soon as there was an engine firing up. I was here waiting and ready to jump.”

Q. In your brief Formula 1 career so far you were already king of consistency. Moving forward what is the game plan, maximum attack on Daniel Ricciardo or keep calm and carry-on to score many points?

A. “Well, it will be to score as many points as possible. You know that is important in the championship. There are sometimes when you need to take a bit of risk. But you need to think about what you are going to win and what you’re going to lose from that. So, there is always a thought going behind risk-taking.”

Q. Sounds like you are learning from Sebastian and Leclerc?

A. “Why? No, I always thought myself about this, no, no, no. I’ve been driving since a lot of times so I take the experience in obviously.”

Q. We all know Formula 1 is serious dog eat dog world, in terms of driving style are there many similarities between you and Danny, and do you expect any help from him in terms of set up and data sharing?

A. “I don’t know his driving style yet. But for sure I think we will work together with all the engineers, data sharing and all those things will be, of course, normal things. And I hope we can make the team move forward from that.”

Q. Renault won the very first Grand Prix in this world. Are you extra happy to be with a French team?

A. “Yes, yes, more than happy. It’s the team where I grew up with in Enstone since 2010, I was part of the program till 2014 so I really grew up in the factory there and it felt like a story which should not have ended, so I am pretty happy to continue it now.”

Photo. The Guardian.

Sparks fly when young guns clash. The famous Sao Paulo Samba between Esteban and “force of nature” Max during the 2018 Brazilian Grand Prix.

Q. You and Max were in the news after the 2018 Brazilian Grand Prix. Will there be exchange of Christmas cards in December so we, the race fans, know that everything is cool between the two of you?

A. “We actually had a cool race with the road car on the Pirelli hot laps yesterday. We had two laps of racing, we had good fun and then we had a good laugh when we came out of the car. So, no problem between us.”

Q. Success has been part and parcel of your racing life. From Karting to F3 and GP3, was there a particular season or series where you felt you improved the most?

A. “I think every year has been useful for me to develop myself, of course, some years have been more difficult than others. All in all, I think the more categories you do, the more things you see the more useful it is before coming to F1 because it’s more experience. I don’t think one year is less useful than another, I think they all have been useful.”

Q. Among all the drivers you have raced against from Karting to Formula 1, who stand out as real tough competitors?

A. “I think Max and Charles really. They were the ones where we raced the whole time together. Of course, quick competitors but tough ones also on the track. I think we pushed ourselves forward all our career, basically that helps bring the level up when we arrive into Formula 1. It’s been quite a few years with them.”

Q. From your Karting days what events stand out?

A. “I have been three times French champion. I finished second in the World Series Karting which is like the world championship and those are my main wins.”

Q. When you moved from Karting to single seaters how challenging was the adjustment or did it come naturally to you?

A. “No, it took some time. it took a year to really get very, very comfortable. Of course, I was against a very quick teammate, who was Daniil Kvyat who had three years of racing in single seaters (experience). As soon as I was in my second year I was fighting for the title. From there on it was good.”

Q. Before you got picked up by Gravity management who was guiding your career?

A. “My parents. Then it’s always been Eric Boullier and Gwen, who still works for Mercedes now, still manage the junior program. So, we’ve come a long way since that time.”

Q. In 2020, you remain under Mercedes management. How did this deal happen? Did Toto call you or did you send him a case of French wine?

A. “No, it’s a bit more complicated than that. In 2014, I won the Formula 3 championship and the program got lost a bit, and they ran out of money so I had no program for 2015.

“So, I called Toto and said look, because I met him in that year, I don’t have any possibilities for next year at the moment can you find me something? He said if Lotus can’t do anything for you, I take you under the Mercedes star.

“I waited couple of months and that’s what he did. Definitely thankful for Toto and everything he has been helping on since 2015.”

Q. How was your time in DTM?

A. “I choose back in the day to do that. I wanted to be a professional driver straight away coming from, you know my background. Of course, there was no secure thing if I was going to go to F1. or not and I wanted to be professional straight away.

“In the end it was a fantastic step up because it has good preparation for Formula 1. Back in the days they had tire blankets, full on engineers, cars they were very complicated. Yeah, I went from there to Formula 1 and felt more or less I was doing the same. So, it has been good to do that.”

Q. For 2020, has Renault set any goals for you to achieve?

A. “I think you can probably ask Cyril on what the objective are? In my opinion what we want to achieve is improving from where they are this year and just do better than what they have done. That’s the target, of course, I want to score podiums, that would be fantastic but we will see. Let’s start first and see later.”

Q. Your favorite tracks? I’m guessing Spa is there?

A. “No, Spa is not. I am a bit different than any other driver on that; Suzuka, Budapest, Monaco.”

Q. Do you enjoy racing in the wet?

A. “Yes, very much, very much. Enjoy? Yes and no. But you know when I’m on it I feel at ease really. It’s a condition I like.”

Q. Sadly, grid girls are gone from F1, in your time in F1 which Grand Prix had the best looking chicas de pista?

A. “That was before my time so I don’t know. I can’t really tell you. We still have some kind of grid girls sometimes. It’s good that we also have kids that can have the chance to meet us and all that. I think we probably could have both all in all.”

Q. Do you enjoy meeting fans?

A. “I don’t mind. It’s awesome to see the support. A lot of fans give gifts to me.”

Esteban extremely delighted to celebrate the agreement to receive F1weekly’s famous check with many 000000s.

– – Nasir Hameed

Play Podcast: 01-14-20f1weekly815.mp3